Restoration and Church History
Granny McKenzie

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“Granny McKenzie,” Global Histories: Scotland (2020)

“Granny McKenzie,” Global Histories: Scotland

Granny McKenzie

Lizzie Wilson, later McKenzie, was born in 1898 in Dundee, Scotland, as a third-generation Latter-day Saint. Since many Scottish Saints had immigrated to Utah, the branch Lizzie grew up in was small, but her family was faithful. Lizzie remembered going to the post office for her mother, Margaret, to mail the family’s tithing, even when it was only a shilling. During World War I, there were not enough missionaries in Scotland for each branch, so Lizzie’s brother Joe was often the only priesthood holder in Dundee.

In 1920 Lizzie married James McKenzie. James was not a member of the Church but was supportive of her faith, despite opposition from his family. As the only one of her siblings to stay in Scotland, Lizzie took care of her mother until Margaret’s death in 1926. At that point there were again no missionaries in Dundee, but Lizzie made sure that Margaret’s request for the missionaries to conduct her funeral was fulfilled. Though the missionary presence in Dundee was spotty over the next decade, Lizzie offered her home for meetings when they did come, and each of her five children were baptized. These visits ended, however, when foreign missionaries were completely withdrawn during World War II. The McKenzies’ only contact with the Church during this period was the Relief Society Magazine, sent from Joe, who was living in the United States. Prejudice against the Church continued to be a challenge. Lizzie’s daughter Lou was reprimanded by a teacher at school for mentioning the name “Joseph Smith” and was told that if she did it again, her mouth would be rinsed with soap.

After her husband, James, died in 1946, Lizzie prayed for the missionaries’ return to Dundee. The next year Lizzie was attending a matinee one day when she felt that she should leave the theater. When she walked out, she saw two young missionaries and asked if they were looking for a Lizzie McKenzie. They were. Her prayer had been answered. Lizzie again opened her home for meetings until a hall could be rented. Over the years, Lizzie, who came to be known as “Granny McKenzie” by the Dundee Saints, saw the Church develop from a small group meeting in homes to multiple congregations with their own meetinghouses. In November 1975, at the organization of the Dundee Scotland Stake, Lizzie remembered attending the groundbreaking for their meetinghouse at Bingham Terrace. “I always wished to see the chapel full,” she reflected. “My dreams and prayers have been answered this day.” Lizzie left a legacy for the Church in Scotland not only through her posterity, who continue to contribute to the Church in Scotland and abroad, but also through her example of patience and endurance through difficult times.